Should Western Springs be transformed into New Zealand Cricket's flagship ground there is a golden opportunity to immortalise the best players of the summer sport.

It is overdue. It only takes a short trip across the Tasman to realise we are chronically "under-statued".

But who should we recognise on cricket's Walk of Fame?

A panel of Herald sports reporters have sweated over a proposal that would make qualification for the walkway rigorous and available to only the best.

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We would have an initial induction of the country's seven greatest cricketers and a voting process for four 'debatable inclusions'.

The vote would be made by a newly formed 20-strong academy of cricket writers, broadcasters and administrators (no past international players would be eligible for the academy due to inherent biases). Each player would need 75 per cent of the vote to be inducted to the walkway.

Future induction would be based upon strict criteria that reflects the proliferation of multi-formatted cricket. The players would have needed to have played at least three games in any format across 10 separate years to qualify. This would ensure players not only had to make a dramatic impact, but also an extended one.

Clearly some of the past players would not have reached this criteria, but the pre- and immediate post-war cricket landscape was vastly different to what it is now.

THE INITIAL GROUP
Sir Richard Hadlee (1973 - 90)
First statue picked. The numbers don't lie with Hadlee, yet they can't fully explain his effect on national life. There was no more thrilling prospect than watching the great man take the new ball on the first day of a test. He was a clean striker who evolved from a hitter to a genuine batsman, was a top gully fielder and inspired one of the great cricket eras almost single-handedly. He was also the dominant figure on a victorious campaign in Australia, a rare thing indeed. Hadlee was such a giant of New Zealand sport that even changing his run-up became an issue for furious debate. The one Kiwi who would walk into a world hall of fame, although Kane Williamson is heading in that direction. No New Zealand cricketer can match the Hadlee aura.

Suggested statue: The flowing delivery is the obvious one, but a low-slung two handed appeal could be an interesting study.

Richard Haddle appeals for a wicket.
Richard Haddle appeals for a wicket.

Martin Crowe (1982 - 1995)

The late great captain and batsman was all class with the willow, even if his final test average of around 45 was short of his true ability. He had an elegant, classic style and led New Zealand on a brilliant World Cup caper in 1992. He was a quality fieldsman, whether catching or patrolling the covers. Like Hadlee, there was an aura to Crowe that others can't match. He may have had a divisive quality as a player, but he matured into not only a wonderful commentator on cricket but life as he battled a dreadful illness. It's doubtful that any New Zealand cricketer has analysed the game better.

Suggested statue:

Classic cover drive, sans towelling head band.

Martin Crowe.
Martin Crowe.

Bert Sutcliffe (1947 - 65)

A romantic figure, and compiler of massive scores, who finished his career with outstanding test and first class averages. Also the "the most cultured stroke maker" in our cricket history, according to the master selector Don Neely. Sutcliffe was a key player in one of New Zealand's most famous sporting moments, of tragedy and bravery, in South Africa in the 1950s. He also made a comeback in his 40s but it still wasn't enough to reverse one of the great New Zealand sporting injustices: Sutcliffe never played on a winning test team.

Suggested statue pose:

Bloodied and heroic at Ellis Park.

Bert Sutcliffe in 1958.
Bert Sutcliffe in 1958.

Glenn Turner (1969 - 83)

Another big personality, one which saw him conduct a one-man international strike over failure to recompense his English county wages. Turner, opening for Worcestershire, was a giant of county cricket when it was the centre of the professional game. He started out as a dour young batsman doggedly building his technique, and flourished into one of the innovators, to the point of being a signpost to cricket's flamboyant future. A highlight - he was a bulwark against the Windies in 1972, when a five-match away series was drawn. The only New Zealander to score 100 first-class centuries, he also achieved the then-mythical figure of 1000 runs before the end of May.

Suggested statue

: The square slash.

Glenn Turner during a test match. Photosport
Glenn Turner during a test match. Photosport

John R. Reid (1949 - 65)

All rounder supreme. Dynamic in very regard. Recorded decent batting and bowling averages by New Zealand standards, and has been described in terms like "colossus" during an era where New Zealand was not much chop. He was an athletic and strong-armed fielder in a time when leaving your feet was often seen as uncouth. Ahead of his time, and a lot of judges just wish he had been around during the one-day era.

Suggested statue

: Smashing a six.

Stephen Fleming (1994 - 2008)
Snuck to a test batting average of 40 the hard way, with a baffling inability initially to turn great starts into big scores. An elegant batsman and dapper character, he had a landmark career in New Zealand cricket history through his longevity and captaincy. Cricket luminaries around the world consider him one of the finest captains ever, and any such praise for a New Zealand player is hard won. His ODI highlights included a match-winning World Cup century against South Africa. With more than 15,000 international runs, he heads the tallies for both one-day and test cricket by some distance.
Suggested statue: An elegant flick to reflect his famous poise.

Stephen Fleming.
Stephen Fleming.

Stewie Demptster (1930 - 33)

Ten tests, average of 65, says it all. A small sample, yes, but world-beating results. Only Don Bradman's average is higher, though his 15 innings are not enough to officially qualify him. Cricinfo profile describes him as "neat and compact" and particularly good against slow bowling. He used quick feet to nullify some of the vagaries of the pitches of the era.

Suggested statue:

He had a rugged, interesting face.

FUTURE CERTAINTIES

Daniel Vettori (1997 - 2015)

A wonderkid whose parsimonious finger spinners were lethal in one-day cricket, even if they were a little short of world class by the highest test standards. Vettori is on a small scoreboard of very famous names, including Shane Warne, who notched 300 test wickets and 3000 runs. Just about the only Kiwi spinner to be trusted over the long haul, to the point that he became the captain. Vettori's bowling guile found a parallel in his batting, where an ungainly style brought stunning results for a while.

Suggested statue:

Lips pursed, airborne, ball near the release point.

Daniel Vettori comes into bowl. Photosport
Daniel Vettori comes into bowl. Photosport

Kane Williamson (2010 - )

Off-the-charts numbers, including 50-plus test average, and 17 centuries. Will challenge Hadlee as our greatest cricketer. A no-fuss character, who makes it look so easy. Williamson is often exposed by inferior opening partnerships, but seems unaffected. Looks incapable of a career collapse, and could have another eight or so seasons to post the sort of numbers unheard of here.

Suggested statue:

The helmet age isn't great for statues. One of his muted celebrations would capture the essence of the man.

Kane Williamson celebrates hitting the winning runs against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Kane Williamson celebrates hitting the winning runs against Australia. Photo / Brett Phibbs

Brendon McCullum (2002 - 2016)

The numbers do lie to an extent with McCullum. An enigma, he was the ultimate crowd pleaser, yet he could never win over the whole crowd. His high 30s test average is decent especially considering he played half his career as a wicketkeeper. There are three double centuries of course, no small matter, a Kiwi record 302, and the fastest century ever (54 balls v Australia). Beyond that, McCullum transformed cricket with his master blaster batting. He was a pied piper, leading players and fans through the gates of the promised land, even if there were plenty of naysayers. As captain he just about united a team, despite all the controversy. On his great batting days, there wasn't a better sight in sport.

Suggested statue:

Bat raised in one hand, helmet in the other, acknowledging the crowd.

Brendon McCullum salutes the Basin Reserve crowd. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Brendon McCullum salutes the Basin Reserve crowd. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Ross Taylor (2006 - )

A marvellous career and great numbers, even if the connection with the public has never been what it might. Taylor has battled past the disgraceful way he was treated when stripped of the captaincy. This includes a record-laden 290 against Australia in Perth, the highest test score by an overseas player in Australia. Capable of both incandescent and prosaic innings, Taylor is also a beacon for players of Polynesian heritage.

Suggested statue:

His calling card - slogging the ball over the leg side.

Ross Taylor performs his slog sweep. Photo / Paul Taylor
Ross Taylor performs his slog sweep. Photo / Paul Taylor

TO DEBATE

Jack Cowie (1937 - 49)

The medium quick bowler has sensational numbers by any standards, 45 wickets in a war-curtailed career of nine tests, at an average under 22. We'll rely on a famous quote from a Wisden editor, who said Cowie would have been a "wonder of the age" if he was in the high-profile Australian team. Got 'The Don' out cheaply.

Suggested statue:

There are some excellent photos of the Cowie delivery action.

Martin Donnelly (1937 - 49)
The batting parallel to Cowie, with a stellar average around 53 from seven tests. His quick-scoring batting style was revered. He spent much of his career overseas, which led to an appearance for the England rugby team at centre. The scorer of four first-class centuries for four different teams at Lord's - New Zealand, the Players, Oxford and the Dominions. If Cowie gets a statue, then Donnelly gets one, and vice versa.
Suggested statue: Anything which gets across the grace of his shots.

Chris Cairns (1989 - 2006)
A swashbuckling hero who became a one man controversy reviled in certain quarters. Test bowling average under 30, batting average just above, make him a genuine all-rounder. His ability to hit sixes was legendary. When Cairns strode out to bat, expectations went through the roof. Many feel he could have been even better and his window of excellence was all-too-brief. This and his off-field travails could make for a very tricky debate.
Suggested statue: His signature shot, the big, straight six.

Nathan Astle (1995 - 2007)
Possibly a longshot. Astle's feet may not have moved too much, but the ball sure did when he was in top gear. His record-setting 153-ball double century against England in Christchurch pushes him into statue consideration, while he was for a long time the standard-bearer of New Zealand one-day batting. His one-day bowling class should not be forgotten, and he was a superb fielder.
Suggested statue:: Anything which relates to that amazing 222.